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Thousands endorse Navalny to challenge Russian prez

Thousands endorse Navalny to challenge Russian prez
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Moscow: Alexei Navalny, seen as the only Russian opposition leader who stands a fighting chance of challenging Vladimir Putin, sought on Sunday to get his name on the ballot for a March presidential election, with supporters gathering across Russia to endorse the move.
Thousands of people who back the charismatic 41-year-old lawyer were meeting in 20 Russian cities to formally nominate his candidacy in the presence of electoral officials to boost his chances of making the vote.
Russian electoral officials have deemed him ineligible to run due to a criminal conviction, saying "only a miracle" would help him get registered. Putin, 65, announced this month that he will seek a fourth presidential term, which would extend his rule until 2024 and make him the longest-serving Russian leader since dictator Joseph Stalin.
But Navalny, who has tapped into the anger of a younger generation who grew up under Putin and yearn for change, said he would not give up.
He hopes that popular support for his Kremlin bid would pressure authorities into putting his name on
the ballot.
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